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SD Supreme Court reverses pandemic relief repayment decision

South Dakota Supreme Court rules against Department of Labor.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled against the Department of Labor in a case regarding COVID-19 relief funds.

In 2020, insurance agent Lonnie Reidburn received $26,346 in pandemic unemployment benefits. The following year, the Department of Labor ordered Reidburn to repay all those relief funds.

The department claimed Reidburn’s income was indirectly affected by the pandemic, making him ineligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Reidburn appealed the request, stating the pandemic prevented him from conducting required in-person visits to sell insurance.

Because the pandemic stopped Reidburn from performing his job as a salesman, the Supreme Court reversed the lower judge’s decision in a ruling released Thursday and waived Reidburn’s repayment.

The justices cited Bracken, a similar case regarding a bed and breakfast owner being required to return her pandemic funds.

As part of the appeal, Reidburn also sought to appeal the circuit court's denial of his request for attorney fees. The Supreme Court rejected this part of the appeal.

Veda is an English and journalism major at Augustana University in Sioux Falls. She loves writing and storytelling, and she plans to pursue a career as a journalist after graduation.